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What Is the 
Communist 
Opposition? 

by Bertram D. WoKe 



15C 



Second Enlarged Edition 

Published by 

Communist Party of the U. S. A. 
[Opposition} 






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What Is the Communist 
Opposition ? 



by 
BERTRAM D. WOLFE 



Second Enlarged Edition 

Published by 

COMMUNIST PARTY U.S.A. (Opposition) 

51 West 14th Street 

New York City 



Introduction 

This pamphlet seems to have met a real need. With- 
in less than a year of the date of its issue the first 
large edition is completely exhausted and a second 
edition made necessary. 

The republication of the original text unaltered 
serves to demonstrate to every thoughtful reader that 
the events of the last year have confirmed in a start- 
ling and tragic way the correctness of every line of it. 
Things only forecast in the first edition are today 
things fulfilled. Life itself has confirmed the cor- 
rectness of the views of the Communist Opposition 

GERMANY OFFERS TRAGIC PROOF 

In Germany the proletariat has suffered a crushing 
defeat — the greatest, the most shameful defeat in its 
history. A few hundred thousand Brown-Shirt bandits 
have succeeded in taking power without so much as a 
struggle and have destroyed the mighty political and 
economic organization of the best organized working 
class in the world. The continued cowardice, compro- 
mise and treachery of the Social-democratic leader- 
ship, and the continued unrealism, sectarianism and 
tactical bankruptcy of the official Communist leader- 
ship, left the working class leaderless, divided, power- 
less to resist. 

The fatal theory of "social-fascism" which made a 
united front of Social-democratic and Communist work- 
ers impossible, the criminal nonsense of "united front 
from below" which was a substitute for any effort to 
develop a united front, the childish game of calling all 
opponents Fascists*, so that genuine Fascism did not 
seem to require any special resistance, the unrealistic 
analysis which rendered all sound tactics impossible, 
the systemization of bluff and the habit of calling each 
defeat a victory— have borne their tragic fruit. 

In the first edition we wrote: 

"Even the big German Communist Party has lost 



The party press called the Bruening government, the von 
Papen government, the von Schleicher government, each in 
turn. Fascist, so that Hitler would seem to be but a con- 
tinuation of an already established regime. 

3 



completely its once powerful position in the German 
trade unions and has been unable to check the rapid 
growth of Fascism or even the streaming of large sec- 
tions of the working class into the Fascist ranks. While 
the Communist Party has virtually stood still or made 
relatively small gain, the Fascists have grown by 
leaps and bounds to become the largest party in Ger- 
many." 

At that time, the above-quoted words might have 
seemed exaggerated to some party members who heard 
the promises of a speedy Soviet Germany ringing in 
their ears. Today, everyone can see that those words 
were an understatement. Less than a year after they 
were written, Hitler is in power; the German prole- 
tariat crushed and bleeding; its organization smashed 
and the once mighty Communist Party reduced to 
an underground movement of 30,000 plus 8,000 of the 
Communist Opposition, fighting a valiant and heroic 
rearguard action to prevent complete annihilation and 
to begin the reconstruction of their fighting forces. 
* Ji^ * 

THE FATAL HARVEST OF DUAL UNIONISM 

Life itself has also demonstrated in tragic fashion 
the fatality of the union-splitting tactics of the ultra- 
left party line. The German Communist Party, under 
instructions from the Red Trade Union International, 
split the trade unions of Germany, drained out the 
Communists and their close sympathizers (a blood- 
letting process which left the mass of organized work- 
ers at the mercy of the reactionary bureaucrats) and 
formed the impotent R. G. O. (Rote Gewerkschafts- 
Opposition) "Red unions". In an instant, all the hard- 
won positions of leadership of powerful unions were 
lost and no amount of meaningless theses about "in- 
creasing the work in reactionary unions while build- 
ing the Red unions" were able to prevent the wiping out 
of the Communist influence as a force among the or- 
ganized workers of Germany. When the fatal test 
came, on July 20, 1932, on September 12, 1932, on Jan- 
uary 30, 1933, the days of the successive steps in the 
seizure of power by the Brown hordes of Hitler, when 
the Communist Party called for general strikes, not 
a finger was raised, not a shop went out, not a wheel 
stopped in all Germany. For the Communists were out- 
side of the mass trade unions and you cannot call a 
general strike by handing out leaflets at random to 
men, women and children on the public streets. 



AMERICA CONFIRMS OUR TRADE UNION LINE 

In America too the trade union line of the Communist 
Opposition has received startling confirmation in re- 
cent months. 

The sectarian line of official Communism was predi- 
cated on the following three dogmas: 

1. That the American Federation of Labor was 
headed for collapse and under no circumstances could 
or would organize any fresh masses of workers. 

2. That the A. F. of L. unions were nothing but 
"company unions" and could not 'ander any circum- 
stances lead strugg'les of the workers. 

3. That it was both futile and opportunistic, even 
treacherous, to fight within the conservative trade 
unions to transform them into militant industrial 
unions under progressive leadership. 

When the first edition of this pamphlet appeared 
these sacrosanct dogmas of sectarian Communism could 
be combated and disproved only on the basis of theo- 
retical considerations and past experience. The de- 
pression weighed like an Alp upon the working class 
and there was little union organization or struggle. 
But in recent months, the sectarian line and the line 
of the Communist Opposition have been put to the 
test. There has been a profound change in the temper 
of the American labor movement, a great wave of 
strikes in every industry and corner of the land, a verit- 
able rush to organize. The wave of unionization 
sweeps over the sectarian wing of Communism with 
its dual "Red unions". They seem incapable of for- 
getting anything or learning anything. Only the line 
of the Communist Opposition has withstood the test 
of the new developments and it has enabled us to orien- 
tate ourselves with realism and effectiveness in the 
new situation. Once more the line of the Commu- 
nist Opposition is confirmed by life itself. 

It is the test of life, after all, that all "lines" and 
all theories must be able to meet. It was the confi- 
dence that our conception of strategy and tactics was 
correct, that "history", which decides all such things, 
would decide for us, that made it possible to continue 
our work in the face of the abuse of the official spokes- 
men of the movement we cherish and serve and to fight 
on against great odds to correct the line that is isolat- 
ing, discrediting and crippling the Communist Party. 
Now that our analyses are being confirmed and the 
tide beginning to turn, the Communist Opposition 
swims no less surely for having trained itself by swim- 



ming against that current when that current was in 
the wrong direction. 

We can best close the preface to the second edition 
of this pamphlet as we closed the introduction to the 
first: 

"We assume that the reader is interested enough 
in the problems of the working class to give earnest 
and open-minded consideration to the questions raised 
in this pamphlet and that, if the facts here set forth 
and aims convince him, the working class reader will 
act upon his convictions and join actively and whole- 
heartedly in our struggle for the unity of our party, 
the adoption of a tactical line that will enable it to 
grow, and insure its victory in this country and the 
triumph of the Communist International and the cause 
oif Communism in all lands." 



December, 1933. 



CHAPTER I. 

The Crisis In The Communist 
International 

The past four years have been extremely favorable 
for the growth of the Communist movement. 

In the capitalist world — depression, mass misery and 
starvation, open preparations for a new world war. 

In the Soviet Union — freedom from unemployment, 
expansion of industry, construction of socialism. 

Millions are disillusioned and discontented with 
capitalism. Millions look to the Soviet Union with 
hope and longing. Never were conditions more favor- 
ablo for the growth of the Communist movement — ^here 
and thruout the world. Yet the Cmnmunist moveynent 
has not grown! 

iif Up -Jp 

1HE CONDITION OF THE INTERNATIONAL 
TODAY 

What have the past three or four years brought to 
the Communist International? 

They have brought a continual, steady decline in 
membership in all important countries except Germany 
and the Soviet Union. 

A profound crisis in inner-party life. 

The expulsion of the majorities of the Communist 
Parties of Sweden, Spain, India, Switzerland, Alsace. 

The expulsion of the founders and most experienced 
leaders and officials of all important parties.' 

The crumbling of entire parties. For example, the 
Czechoslovakian Communist Party lost 80% of its 
members in the iirst eighteen months after the ex- , 
pulsion policy and change in the political line of the 
International began. The French party has been re- 



1 When the German party held the celebration of its tenth 
anniversary, virtually all the Spartacan leaders, who had 
founded the party, had been expelled so that the anniver- 
sary speakers were men who had opposed or had not par- 
ticipated in the Spartacan revolt. The situation at the tenth 
anniversary in the United States was similar. 



duced to a chaotic sect and has lost its influence over 
the French masses. The English party, once numbering 
12,000 members, does not now number 2,000. The 
aftermath of a general strike, the collapse of the 
"Labor" government, the breakdown of the pound 
sterling and a mutiny in the fleet — all leave the British 
Communist Party smaller than it has been at any time 
since 1924. The South African party has lost 90% of 
its membership in two years. 

Even the big German Communist Party has lost com- 
pletely its once powerful position in the German trade 
unions, has failed to defeat the Social-democracy even 
tho the latter split, has failed to win the left wing 
which broke off, and has been unable to check the 
rapid growth of Fascism or even the streaming of 
large sections of the working class into the Fascist 
ranks. While the Communist Party has virtually stood 
still or made relatively small gains the Fascists have 
grown by leaps and bounds to become the largest party 
in Germany. 

In brief, during these four years that were so fav- 
orable for the growth of Communism, not only has 
the movement not grown, but it has failed utterly to 
give leadership to the masses to meet their needs in 
the present crisis. The tremendous sympathy for Com- 
munism and the hatred of capitalism have not re- 
sulted in growing parties nor consolidating class forces, 
have not been crystallized into an organized force 
si^h as the Communists and the working class had 

the right to expect. 

* * * 

THE AMERICAN PARTY 

In the American Communist Party we find a similar 
situation. The old and experienced members, the 
founders of the party, and its builders in the harder 
years of Palmer raids and "Coolidge prosperity," have 
been expelled by the hundreds. Others have dropped 
out in disgust by the thousands. Fearful of the out- 
come of a discussion of their blunders and wrong- 
headed political line, the present leadership forbids 
discussion, expels questioners and critics, substitutes 
name-calling for argument, terror for comradeship and 
stifles the internal life of the party. 

The work in the conservative trade unons has been 



abandoned or reduced to splitting activities. The once 
powerful left wing in the American Federation of La- 
bor has disappeared. The independent unions under 
party control have disintegrated to mere paper unions, 
shadows of the party. Nothing remains of the "new" 
textile and miners unions and next to nothing in the 
needle trades. 

Sectarianism, which separates the party from the 
backward masses, and amateurishness, sensationalism, 
recklessness and bluff, have taken the place of the earn- 
est building and digging in, which aided the party's 
growth in the. past. The Party, which in the heyday 
of "Coolidge prosperity" was able to grow, has aetval- 
ly lost in membership in the period of depression! 
From 1925 to 1929, when it was not easy to win work- 
ers to Communism, the party grew slowly, but steadily. 
On the eve of the change of line and expulsions, the 
party membership in good standing numbered about 
15,000. In 1932, after three years of capitalist depres- 
sion and bankruptcy, three years of mass misery and 
discontent, the dues-paying membership had shrunk 
to less than half of that! 2 

* * s^ 
WHY DON'T PARTIES GROW! 

When a new member or sympathizer asks why the 
party does not grow, why thousands are out, why the 
party has been split, he is told: "It is Lovestone's 
fault." 

But does Lovestone live in Germany and Switzer- 
land? Is it Lovestone's fault that in Sweden the "ex- 
pelled party" has over 15,000 members and the official 
party has less than 3,000? Is Lovestone responsible 
for the collapse of the party in France? or in England, 
where there was not even an opposition group and 
almost no resistance to the false line of the Party? 

No, the crisis is deep — too deep for explariation as 
the work of a devil or an angel. The crisis is interna- 
tional. The crisis grows out of the errors of the party 
in every country outside of the Soviet Union. The 



2 At the last 1932 Plenum, the membership in good standing 
was reported as between 6,500-7,000. Of the 16,000 who 
were members in 1929 less than 3000 remained at the end 
of 1932. 



errors are persistent and continuous. They prevent 
growth in spite of favorable oonditions. They are not 
isolated errors. The whole line of the party is in- 
volved. The line of the International is involved. Un- 
til it is corrected, the parties cannot grow! To be a 
Communist does not mean "just to belong," to be a 
cardholder. To be a Communist means to want to 
build a powerful party, to investigate why it does not 
grow, to remove obstacles in its path, to help it grow. 
To such genuine Communists this discussion is ad- 
dressed. 



10 



CHAPTER II. 

Roots Of The Crisis 

Over one-sixth of the earth the workers rule. Their 
tasks are primarily those of building up a new social 
order. 

In the other five-sixths capitalism still controls. The 
tasks of the workers are primarily those of overthrow- 
ing the old social order. 

As the proletarian revolution is delayed in the West, 
the gap between the development of the two sections 
of the earth temporarily widens. This widening gap 
and the problems and difficulties it creates, are the 
basis of the present crisis in our International. 

In the words of the International Communist Oppo- 
sion (Resolution of the International Conference, July 
1932) : 

"The real basic source of the ultra-left course is 
the false transference of the methods and forms of 
struggle, corresponding to a country in which the 
working class has already triumphed and in which 
socialism is being built, to the Communist Parties of 
those countries in which the majority of the working 
class has still to be won and the prerequisites for 
taking up the struggle for power have still to be 
created." 

Since the death of Lenin the leadership of the Rus- 
sian Communist Party has become much narrower. 
At the first congresses of the International the Rus- 
sian delegation consisted of Lenin, Bukharin, Zinoviev, 
Stalin, Trotsky, Chicherin, Ossinsky and Vorovsky. Of 
this brilliant and experienced old guard leadership, 
only Stalin remains. Yet the monopoly of leadership 
of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the 
Communist International has grown steadily more com- 
plete. Until Lenin's death this monopoly was a fav- 
orable thing, chiefly because Lenin opposed its be- 
coming permanent and conceived it to be the duty of 
the more experienced Russian delegation to aid in the 

H 



development of the other parties and lay the basis for 
a real collective leadership of all parties in the Inter- 
national. 

"Many comrades have talked themselves into the 
idea," said Lenin at the eighth convention of the Rus- 
sian party, "of the submission of all national parties 
to the International Committee of the Russian Com- 
munist Party. I must answer that if any one proposes 
such a thing we would have to condemn him." 

Monopoly of the leadership of the Russian Commu- 
nist Party was a helpful thing in the early days when 
I he other parties were inexperienced and while it was 
carried on with the aim of making itself unnecessary. 
Now, however, the Russian leadership has become 
narrower, its tasks and experiences radically different 
from those of the parties in capitalist countries, ana 
yet its monopoly of leadership in the International 
has become more absolute and complete than ever. 
* * * 

MAKING A GAME OP FACTIONALISM 

The acute factional struggles in the Russian party 
have been .systematically carried into the International. 
An eifort has been made by both Trotsky and Stalin 
and to a lesser extent by Bukharin to develop fractions 
in every party, on the basis not of the problems of 
each country, but on the basis of the Russian party 
factions. Hence the unreal and unhealthy nature of 
so many disputes and changes of leadership in the 
various parties. 

When Trotsky was attacking Stalin "from the left" 
and making pseudo-leftist and ultra-leftist criticisms 
of the policies of the Russian Party leadership, every 
party in the International was expected to find an 
"ultra-left danger" and fight it as "the main danger!" 
This was put thru even in parties like the Czecho- 
slovak party where leftism was a rarity and the party 
was rotten with opportunism. 

When Stalin finished his fight with Trotsky and 
broke with Bukliarin, Rykoff and Tomsky, he de- 
nounced them as "right-wingers" and all the fifty-odd 
parties in the International were suddenly expected, 
nay ordered, to find a "right danger" and fight it as the 
"main danger!" The reader can imagine what that 

1» 



did to the already demoralized Czechoslovak party! 

* # « 

CREATING THE PUPPET LEADERSHIP 

In every party these unreal groupings and factional 
quarrels introduced confusion and chaos, encouraged 
the creation of puppet leaderships who would face now 
"right," now "left," as the factional exigencies of the 
leadership of the C. P. S. U. required. The more un- 
principled these puppets were, the less interested they 
were in the problems facing the working class of their 
own country, the less they depended upon the support 
of the ranlc and file of their own party and the more 
they depeaded for their "places" upon the support of 
the leadership of the Russian party, the more suitable 
they were for this type of factional activity. 

On the other hand, the necessary controversies about 
the issues and problems actually facing the party and 
working class of each country, were held back and 
preveinted. 

It was in such an atmosphere that the present dis- 
reputable puppet leaderships, having no roots in the 
masses of their respective countries and parties and no- 
comprehension of the real problems facing them, be- 
came the "leaderships" of the various parties. At the 
same time, the tried and experienced leaderships that 
had founded and built the parties and were interested 
in building them rather than holding their "places," 

were driven out. 

* * * 

REVISION OF LENINISM 

Still worse, however, was the gradual and the more 
and more rapid revision of the whole foundations of 
Leninist strategy. Political slogans appropriate to a 
given stage or situation in a given country were mech- 
anically adopted in all countries at once. Unrealistic 
methods were applied, that had no relation to the reali- 
ties of the situation in each country. In place of real 
analysis of the peculiarities of each country and situa- 
tion, was substituted the game of finding "right 
dangers" and "left dangers." Those who protested, 
even feebly, or sought to maintain the old methods of 
Marx and Lenin and the general line that had built 
the party and the International, were expelled. No 
attempt was made to convince them or the membership 

13 



generally of the correctness of the fantastic decisions 
and mechanical slogans. Those who sought to discuss 
were branded as "renegades," "counter-revolutionists," 
"enemies of the Soviet Union," and were expelled even 
if they were willing to accept and carry out the false 
line to avoid expulsion! The reason is obvious: the 
new line cannot bear examination and discussion! If 
the new puppet leaderships had consented or been per- 
mitted to consent to discussion, they would have been 
lost! Therefore, instead of conviction, abuse and name- 
calling ! 

The new "leaderships" assumed that if they threw 
enough mud, some would stick. Indeed, the expulsions, 
the reign of terror in the parties, the flood of abuse, 
had some effect. Thousands all over the world were 
expelled. Tens of thousands were driven out or left 
in disgust. Old members were terrorized. New mem- 
bers were taught to close their minds to anything the 
"renegades" might say about the needs of the party. 

But as the bayonets and injunctions won't dig coal 
when the coal miners are on strike, neither will terror 
and abuse build a party when the line of the party 
IS wrong. Now we are in the fourth year of the new 
line and the progress of the parties ia like that of the 
famous comic opera army which took "two steps for- 
ward, three steps backward." Three years of capitalist 
crisis! Three years of mass misery! Three wasted 
years for the Communist movement! Three perilous 
years of Communist decline! So in spite of terror 
and abuse, the better members, the more conscious 
Communists, those who want not only to "belong" 
but to build the party and help it grow, are beginning 
to ask: What is wrong with the line of our Party? 



14 



CHAPTER III. 

Building A Party On American Soil 

{The Question of "Exceptionalism") 

In the queer jargon that takes the place of intellig- 
ible English in upper party circles, the American Com- 
munist Opposition is denounced as "American excep- 
tionalists." 

If we understand what the party leaders are driving 
at, we plead guilty to the charge. Yes, we consider 
that conditions in America are different from condi- 
tions in Germany or Spain or the Soviet Union. We 
are more than "American exceptionalists." We are 
"exceptionalists" for every country of the world! And 
in pleading guilty to considering the conditions of each 
country different from those of the rest, peculiar, "ex- 
ceptional," we are in good company — the company of 
Marx and Lenin. 

The fundamental aims of the Communist movement 
are the same thruout the world — the overthrow of capi- 
talism, the establishment of Soviet Power, the building 
of a socialist society. But the fiiethods of reaching 
that goal, the tactics to be applied at a given -moment, 
are different for each country and even for each stage 

of the struggle in a given country. 
* + * 

A WORLD OF ENDLESS VARIETY 

The countries of the earth do not develop evenly, ac- 
cording to some Utopian blueprint or mechanical for- 
mula. They have different histories, different tradi- 
tions, different relations of class forces, different de- 
grees of development; they are in different stages. 
There are "backward" countries and "advanced" coun- 
tries; industrial lands and agricultural lands; advanc- 
ing powers and declining powers; big nations and 
small nations; creditor countries and debtor countries; 
colonies and imperialist powers; backward working 
classes and advanced working classes, etc., etc. Those 
who would build a Communist movement in any ooun^ 
try must know that country. They must adapt their 

15 



tactics to the special conditions of that country. Else' 
they will never build a Commtinist movement at all. 

LENIN THE EXCEPTIONALIST 

Here is how Lenin answered the abstract pedants, 
the "infantile Communists" as he called them, who did 
not want to take into account the specific peculiarities, 
the concrete conditions, of each country: 

"We must clearly realize that such a leading center 
{as the Communist International) can under no cir- 
cumstances be built after a single model, by a mechan- 
ical uniformity and levelling of the tactical rules of 
struggle. 

"So long as national and national-state differences 
exist between peoples and countries (and those dif- 
ferences will continue to exist for a very long time, 
even after the realization of the proletarian dicta- 
torship on a world scale), the unity of the international 
tactics of the Communist labor movement everywhere 
demands, not the elimination of the varied national 
differences — this at the present moment is a foolish 
dream — but such an application of the fundamental' 
principles of Communism (Soviet Power and the dic- 
tatorship of the proletariat) as luould permit of the 
proper modification of these principles in particulars 
and their correct adaptation and application to nation- 
al and national-stale differences." 

Again and again Lenin reminds us that the chief 
task of the scientific revolutionist or Communist in 
planning his strategy and tactics is : 

"To investigate, study, ascertain, grasp, the na- 
tionally peculiar, nationally specific features in the 
concrete attempts of every country to solve the aspects- 
of a single international problem. . . " 

In other words, slogans, solutions, proposals and tac- 
tics which are mechanically adopted for all countries at 
once, without regard to the peculiarities of each, are 
not likely to be good for any of them. 

A party that wants to sink its roots in American, 
soil must understand American political and economic 
conditions. If it wants to influence and lead the Amer- 
ican workers, it must speak their language, understand 

16 



how to solve their problems, make proposals that meet 
their needs, embodied in slogans adjusted to their de- 
velopment and understanding. This is not nationalism 
— it is the only true internationalism, for only by such 
methods can the Communist International develop a 
powerful American section, only thus can the aims of 
the working class be served in America, or in any other 
country on the face of the earth. 

The leaders of the official Communist Party of the 
United States have their feet in America but their 
heads in Europe. Their speeches deal with the prob- 
lems of the Soviet workers and forget the problems of 
the American workers. Foster writes a book "Towards 
Soviet America" which might as well have been writ- 
ten on Mars for all the reflection of American realities 
that can be found in it. The latest slogans of the Ger- 
man Communist Party, often wrong even for Germany, 
are immediately imported into the United States. The 
German workers are in mortal combat with Fascism, 
so our party tells the bewildered American workers 
about Fascism and "social-fascism" in America. Not 
having a Hitler around at the moment it makes a "so- 
cial-fascist" out of John Dewey or V. F. Calverton! 
The Soviet Union has shock troops. The next day the 
American party has "shock troops." The Soviet Union 
tries to speed up production by "socialist competition" 
between one factory and another. The next day the 
"American" leaders are telling the American workers 
to enter into "socialist competition." Because the Com- 
munist Party of the Soviet Union has behind it the 
majority of the working class, the American leaders 
talk and act as if our little party had the majority of 
the working class behind it, refuse to form united 
fronts with other parties (there are no other parties 
in the Soviet Union) , denounce the millions that our 
party has" to win, and set up artificial barriers between 
the Communists and the mass of the American working 
class. Because the fight in America is hard and long, 
they substitute dreams about what is happening in 
the Soviet Union and try to keep their followers in a 
perpetual daze that will blind them to the weaknesses 
and failures of the American party. By long gazing on 
the splendor of the rising sun of the Rtissian Revolu- 
tion, the leaders of the American party have become 

17 



blinded to the murky realities of America and all the 
party's tactics are carried on in an atmosphere of un- 
reality that has nothing to do with the situation and 
problems of the country in which it is trying to func- 
tion. The Communist Party (Opposition) draws in- 
spiration from the achievements of the Russian Revo- 
lution, but remembers that those achievements were the 
work of the Russian working class led by the most 
realistic Communist Party of the world, the Bolshevik 
party of Lenin. It proposes to imitate the methods of 
Lenin not parroting, but analysis of American reali- 
ties, and the making of the Communist Party of the 
United States into what it was rapidly becoming before 
the change of line in 1929 — an American Communist 
Party speaking to the American wor'king class in its 
own la/ngtiage, of its own problems, aiid proposing tac- 
tics in this country, so as to lead the working class of 
the United States forward on the road to the achieve- 
ment of its own historic destiny, the overthrow of the 
most powerful master class in history, and the conquest 
of America by the American workers for themselves 
and for the workers of the world! 



IS 



CHAPTER IV. 

The Trade Union Question 

The differences between the official Communist Party 
and the Communist Opposition are manifested most 
sharply in the field of trade union work. These differ- 
ences show themselves even in the answers to the most 
elementary questions concerning the unions. 

1. What are the trade unions? The unions are the 
most elementary, the broadest mass organizations of 
the working ciass. They are "the primary school for 
Socialism" (Marx). They should include all workers 
regardless of creed, color, sex, age, occupation or poli- 
tical belief. The acid-test of the soundness of a union 
organization is its functioning in a strike struggle. 
When a strike begins, we do not ask a worker: "Are 
you Catholic, Jew or Protestant? Are you Republi- 
can, Democrat or Socialist? Are you Fascist or Ku 
Klux Klanner? If so you can't go out on strike with 
us." 

On the contrary, we say to Fascist or Ku Kluxer or 
Tammany voter: "You work in the same shop. You 
have the same interests. You suffer the same condi- 
tions, wage-cuts, long hours. You have the same enemy, 
the same boss. Therefore you nvust come out with us!" 

Obviously, then, a union is not a political party. 
It must not exclude, but include. It must not have a 
program appropriate to an advanced political party if 
its aim is to include politically backward workers. 
It cannot demand that all workers favor proletarian 
dictatorship, or Comunist candidates, or turning im- 
perialist war into civil war, or even defense of the 
Soviet Union, before they can join. In short a union 
of Communists and their close synnpathizers is no 
union at all. It must seek to include all who toil, all 
who recognize the elementary fact that in questions 
of hours, wages and working conditions, there is a con- 
flict of interest between bosses and workers. And it 
must so defend the interests of these workers, as grad- 
ually to develop their sense of solidarity and class con- 

19 



sciousness to the understanding of the wider class aims 
of the proletariat. 

2. Are the Commiunists interested in wages and 
hours and other "petty" questions? To this question we 
reply with an answer of Marx and Engels that will 
never be "out-of-date." 

"The Communists," says the Communist Manifesto, 
"have no interests separate and apart from those of 
the proletariat as a whole. . . . 

"The Communists fight for the attainment of the 
immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary 
interests of the working class; but in the movement 
of the present, they also represent and take care of the 
future of that movement." 



3. How should Communists act in unions they "con- 
trol?" Given the relations of forces and stage of work- 
ing class development prevailing today in America, 
Communists are not likely to be at the head of many 
genuine unions. Only exceptionally, where the indus- 
try is in such a state as to have a specially radicaliz- 
ing effect, or a majority of the workers are recruited 
from some foreign nationality having an advanced So- 
cialist tradition, or the Communists hava taken the 
initiative in organizing some hitherto unorganized field, 
are the Communists likely to be found at the head of 
genuine, widely inclusive unions. 

Even in such cases, the Communist Opposition in- 
sists mat the Communists must so conduct themselves 
as not to narrow the union dovm to Communists and 
their closest sympathizers, and must seek to link up the 
union in question with the rest of the labor move- 
ment rather than to isolate it from the other unions. 

The Communists must propose an elementary pro- 
gram of class struggle, not an advanced program fit 
only for adherents of the party. 

They must lead the union in the sense of inspiring, 
convincing and guiding, not in the sense of controlling, 
bossing and running it. They must practise what they 
preach in other unions — no burocratic control, union 
democracy, maximum initiative and activity of the 
rank and file, no orders or officers imposed upon the 
membership from above by a secret caucus or a mys- 

20 



terious order from "headquarters," but patient pro- 
posal, explanation, and conviction, the willingness to 
accept defeat and abide by decisions, without expelling 
or splitting unions, knowing that future developments 
and proper explanation will in the long run convince. 
* * * 

SOME SECOND-HAND COMMUNIST PARTIES 

The conduct of the official party in the few paper 
"mass" organizations it controls, is a perfect model of 
how not to guide and lead a trade union. 

In the International Labor Defense, the International 
Workers Order, and foreign-language fraternal and 
benefit societies, all supposed to be "united front mass 
organizations" accepting every one who stands on the 
elementary ground of the class struggle, the party has 
expelled those who did not accept its full program, just 
as if these organizations were so many Communist 
parties {and parties with an unhealthy, undemocratic 
inner regime at that ! ) . The International Labor De- 
fense, supposed to include and defend workers of all 
political tendencies suffering persecution for labor ac- 
tivities, has expelled "Trotskyites" and "Lovestone- 
ites" and has even expelled those who, knowing no 
"isms," have criticized some act of an official. They 
have refused to defend Opposition Communists arrested 
on the picket line! 

All these organizations have their officers handed 
down to them, by decision of the Communist fraction 
■or the Central Committee, their funds voted by hand- 
picked officials for party purposes without troubling 
to get the consent of the membership, decisions made 
for them before they meet and no discussion or criti- 
cism permitted, the persistent discussers and critics 
being branded as "Lovestoneites," tho they never heard 
■of Lovestone, and then being expelled. Hence it is not 
hard to understand why the foreign-language organ- 
izations (Finnish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, etc.) have 
split and all Communist-bossed organizations have 
dwindled into mere diluted replicas of the party. Mem- 
bership in them is a kind of substitute or second-hand 
membership in a substitute or second-hand Communist 
party with few duties and no rights. 



21 



FAITH OF THE DUAL UNIONS 

In the Communist-controlled "unions" (shoe- workers, 
National Miners Union, Needle Trades Workers In- 
dustrial Union, Food Workers Industrial Union, etc.), 
the situation is even worse. They exist only on paper. 
They include only Communists (not all eligible party 
members even are in them!) and a few close sympa- 
thizers who regard membership as a second-hand party 
membership. Everything is decided by orders from 
above and the chief functions of these unions are to 
try to split mass unions, to cal5 rival strikes when A. 
F. of L. unions call strikes, to offer sometimes "cheaper 
terms" of settlement to get boss recognition ( Pater- 
son, New York dress strike, etc.), to divide the unity 
of the workers, and to pull every awakening worker out 
of the existing unions as soon as he becomes friendly to 
the cause of Communism. 



22 



CHAPTER V. 

Should Communists Work In Reactionary 
Union? 

Our answer is unqualifiedly: "Yes!" The A. F. of L. 
and other conservative unions contain more than 
3,000,000 workers. They are the overwhelming ma- 
jority of the organized workers in this country. The 
Communists must not voluntarily separate themselves 
from these workers, nor split off the more progressive 
sections of them, nor abandon the backward ones to 
their reactionary leaders. The policy of dual unionism, 
of setting up "Red" unions containing only the Com- 
munists and their closest sympathizers, of deserting 
the conservative unions, of splitting them, of skimming 
off the "cream" by pulling out small groups of work- 
ers as soon as they become progressive or radical, of 
forming "pure," virginal, revolutionary organizations 
instead of working from within to transform the ex- 
isting craft unions into militant industrial unions — 
such is the policy of the official Communist Party. For 
opposing this policy more than for any other difference 
the Couimunist Opposition was expelled. 

Yet the policy of union-splitting and sect-forming 
has been tried many times and found wanting. It was 
tried in the days of the Knights of Labor by sectarian 
Socialist immigrants from Germany and was sharply 
condemned by Engels. 

To friends in America Engels wrote: i 

"It is far more important that the movement should 
spread, proceed harmoniously, take root and embrace 
as much as possible the whole American proletariat, 
than that it should start and proceed from the begin- 
ning on theoretically perfectly correct lines . . . The 
great thing is to get the 'working class to move as a 
class: that once obtained they will soon find the right 
direction and all who resist .... will be left in the 
cold with small sects of their own. Therefore I think 
also the Knights of Labor a most important factor 

23 



in the movement lahich ought not to be pooh-poohed 
from ivithout but to be revolutionized from •within." 

Union-splitting as the road to revolutionary union- 
ism was tried again in the days of Daniel De Leon 
with results disastrous to the Socialist Labor party, 
which degenerated into a little union-splitting- sect, 
sepsuated from the broad labor movement, which be- 
came more conservative due to the De Leonite blood- 
letting that had drained it of some of its best blood. 

The fatal policy was tried once more in the first days 
of the Communist movement in this and other coun- 
tries and called forth the powerful argument of Lenin 
against sectarianism embodied in his great pamphlet 
on Communist tactics "Left Communism: An Infantile 
Sickness." 

"The Communists," wrote Lenin, "must join such 
unions in all countries in order to make of them effi- 
cient and conscious organs of struggle for the abolition 
of capitalism and the establishment of Communism . . . 
Any voluntary withdrawal flora the economic move- 
ment, any artificial attempt to organize special unions 
. . . threatens to isolate the most advanced and most 
conscious workers from the masses who are on the 
road to Communism. It threatens to hand over these 
masses to the opportunist leaders thus playing into the 
hands of the bourgeoisie. . . . 

"Communists must on no account leave the ranks of 
the reactionary federation of labor. On the contrary, 
they should go into the old trade unions in order to 
revolutionize them." 

With irresistible logic Lenin answered all our "pro- 
found" arguments (the writer of these lines was once 
a dual-unionist on principle as were all the founders 
of the Communist Party at that time) and he answered 
in advance all the "profound" arguments that the 
present leaders of the party have been able to invent 
or rather drag out of their graves. 

"It is difflcuLt to work in the reactionary unions . . ." 
So is it difficult to overthrow capitalism. The ques- 
tion is: Is it necessary? 

"We will lose our purity . . . " Communists who 
worry about their virgnity had better give up being 
Communists. 

24 



"The leaders of the A. F. of L. want to expel its . . ." 
Of course! They want to separate us at all costs 
from the backward workers. But is it not strange 
that reactionary burocrats and Communist leaders 
should agree in wanting the Communists out of the 
regular trade unions! 

"It is hard to work in unions controlled by reaction- 
aries and gayigsters ..." The Bolsheviks worked in 
unions organized and officered by the Czar's police! — 
and worked so well that these unions (the "Zubatov- 
schina") led a general strike in Odessa. 

The Bolsheviks did not appear as union-splitters 
either before, during or after the Russian revolution! 

So the problem is no new one. It isn't as if the 
matter had not been argued out and analyzed before! 
The curse of the American labor movement has been 
the blood-letting process of dual unionism. 
* * * 

THAT "CHANGE OF LINE ' 

Today, under the fire of our criticism and the pres- 
sure of our example coupled with the patent failure of 
their policies, the leaders of the party pretend to beat 
a shamefaced and hesitant retreat. They have launch- 
ed a whispering campaign about a "change of line." 

"Don't go over to the Lovestoneites. We are chang- 
ing our line. We recognize that we have been neglect- 
ing ( ! ) the work in the reactionary trade unions. We 
are correcting this ..." 

They publish long theses about "mistakes" in the 
trade union work, and then repeat the same "mistakes." 
They adopt resolutions against "neglecting" the work in 
the reactionary unions and then send a handful of 
workers into one or another A. F. of L. union, not to 
seek to rebuild and transform the old unions, but to 
undermine and disrupt, to make new and "more suc- 
cessful" splits, to urge each worker, as soon as he 
becomes a bit sympathetic, to leave the old mass union 
and go into the rival paper union. 

They do not even take the first step toward a genuine 
change of line. They do not give up their dual unions ! 
Every Communist who enters a mass union of the 
American Federation of Labor enters loaded with the 
weight of an awful handicap — he has been sent in to 
split off fragments, to "build the rival Red union" by 

25 



"boring from within." The average worker who has 
developed enough class consciousness to be loyal to the 
Unity of his union sees in the Communist not a builder 
but a splitter, not a unifier and organizer but a dis- 
rupter and divider. Therefore, it is easy for the 
reactionary leaders to expel the Communists with the 
whole-hearted approval of the union members! 

The Communist Opposition proposes that the party 
abandon its stupid and suicidal tactics of union-split- 
ting and blood-letting, of deserting organizations be- 
cause they are not yet militant enough. We propose 
to liquidate all the artificial "revolutionary unions" 
that exist only on paper and that serve no real pur- 
pose except to help the reactionaries in their expulsion 
campaigns and to separate the Communists from the 
rest of the organized workers. We propose to end the 
situation where the Communists appear as union-split- 
ters and restore the state of affairs in which the 
Communists appear as the banner-bearers of trade 
union and working class unity. And the Communist 
Opposition, beside striving to correct this false and 
dangerous course, shows by example in the daily 
struggle both to party members and the working class 
as a whole that the true Communist policy is not 
union-splitting but union organizing and rebuilding. 
The other path is the "easier" but it leads away from 
working class and Communist progress. It leads into 
the blind alley of sectarianism and isolation! 



26 



CHAPTER VI. 

The United Front 

{The Fight for Working-Class Unity) 

The unity of great masses of workers on an elemen- 
tary prog-ram expressing their immediate need, would 
immeasurably strengthen the workers, give them a 
feeling of power such as comes with numbers, give 
them a sense of class solidarity and common interest, 
enable them to enter into struggles out of which they 
would learn more than out of years of preachment 
and abuse. Such proposals of unity to other organiza- 
tions of the workers, on the basis of an elementary 
or minimum program, with each participating group 
retaining its own separate organization and full pro- 
gram, such a first step toward working class unity, 
is known as a "united front." The Communist Party 
has in the past been the most energetic champion of 
such united struggles. 

But in the last few years there has grown up a dis- 
position to treat the united front as a mere clever 
manouver to win following away from the reactionary 
leaders. Naturally, when we propose unity to the 
leaders of conservative working class organizations. 
Socialist party or A. F. of L. unions, one of the im- 
portant "by-products" of our fight for working class 
unity is the exposure of the reactionary leaders. If 
they reject the united front proposal, they expose 
themselves as enemies of working class unity and 
united struggle. If, in response to the pressure of 
their followers, they accept the proposal and then do 
not carry on an effective fight for the program of the 
united front, they again expose themselves in the eyes 
of their followers, who can be won away to the sup- 
port of the Communists as the only genuine fighters 
for the elementary interests of the working class. But 
we cannot too strongly emphasize that the Communists 
must not make united front proposals merely as clever 
maneuvers to win away workers from reactionary lead- 
ership. Such "clever maneuvers" are seen thru by 

■ 27 



everybody. They do not promote working class unity 
but earn contempt for Communism as a species of 
sharp practice, of juggling with the longing of the 
working class for greater unity and strength. 

* * * 

THE "UNITED FRONT FROM BELOW" 

For the last few years, the Communist Party has 
abandoned the united front altogether. No more does 
the party embarrass the leaders of the Socialist party 
and other labor organizations by tireless insistence on 
working class unity on a program which even the most 
backward worker can appreciate and be roused to 
fight for. No more does the party battle earnestly and 
tirelessly for the unity of the working class. "If the 
backward workers won't follow us," runs the present 
official attitude, "then they are reactionaries and social- 
fascists." And so the party cuts itself off voluntarily 
from the workers who still have faith in the leaders of 
the conservative labor organizations. 

* * * 

DISHONEST JUGGLING 

Yet the party leaders dare not openly repudiate the 
time-honored tactics of the united front. Just as they 
disguise their attempt to split the mass unions by call- 
ing it "work in the reactionary unions," so they dis- 
guise their repudiation of the united front by speaking 
of the "united front from below." 

What is this famous "united front from below?" It 
is an invitation to the non-Communist workers to sup- 
port the Communist Party! That is all! In short, 
the "united front from below" is no united front at all. 
And such dishonest juggling with terms prevents any 
real discussion of the most complicated tactical prob- 
lems confronting the party, the problems arising from 
entrance into united fronts with organizations under 
reactionary leadership. 

The crying need of the German working class during 
the last few years has been a united front of all 
workers to fight Fascism. The Communist Party, 
which should have, been the driving force for such a 
united struggle, fought against it. The Socialist lead- 
ers were therefore able to herd their followers into a 
united front with Hindenburg and Bruening "against" 

28 



Fascism. They were even able to capitalize on the 
working class longing for unity. "The Communists do 
not want a united front," said Breitscheid. "If they did 
maybe we would not have to unite with Hindenburg." 
A fine state of affairs when the Social-democratic lead- 
ers can pretend that they are the apostles of unity! 

In the United States, Norman Thomas was enabled 
to play the same game: 

"If Communists mere less dogmatically proud of 
fooling their allies," Thomas wrote in the "New Lead- 
er', ''and zvould work in good faith, there might be 
some chance in Germany and elseiahere for occasional 
Socialist-Communist joint action." But since they 
won't, says Thomas, therefore, "/ think the German 
Social-Democrats are justified in coalition {with Hin- 
denburg and Bruening) in this emergency." 

How does the "Daily Worker" answer this "justifi- 
cation" of the Social-democratic treachery? 

"The Communists formed and carried out a policy 
of joint action — but only joint action with the So- 
cialists and non-party workers. The Communists 
have not formed and will not form a united front 
with the Social-democratic leaders." (Editorial in the 
"Daily Worker" April 26, 1932). 

In other words, the "Daily Wor]:er" deliberately con- 
fuses the invitation of Socialist workers to join the 
Communists, with the united front of the two organ- 
izations. 

The Communist Party of the United States will also 
have a "united front" in the Presidential elections, the 
editorial continues. 

"It will do this by bringing about joint action in 
the struggle of all workers and farmers, including 
the rank and file members of the Socialist party and 
the A. F. of L." 

In other words it will actually permit Socialists and 
members of the A. F. of L. unions to vote for Foster 
and call it a united front! 

"The National Nominating con-vention . . , has itr 
doors wide open to all toilers and to those ready to 

29 



fight for the demands put forward in the Convention 
Call. Here joint action (since when is a Communist 
platform 'joint action' or subject for a 'united front'?) 
•will be decided upon, candidates chosen and a fighting 
platform drafted. All workers are invited." 

What has this word-juggling with "joint action," 
this anti-Communist suggestion that the full program 
of Communism is subject to drafting by united front, 
what has all this charlatanry to do with the united 
front? 

# ^ ^ 

HOW DO THEY GET THAT WAY 

How, the bewildered reader may ask, could such 
ruinous, sectarian tactics ev^er get adopted by the 
party of working class unity? The answer is strange 
and yet simple: 

In the Soviet Union there are no other parties but 
the Communist Party — -there can be no united front 
except with the non-party workers "from below and 
around the Communist Party." 

In the same way, there are no unions but revolu- 
tionary unions in the U.S.S.R. and no problem of 
working in reactionary unions. Once more our com- 
rades are mechanically transporting Russian condi- 
tions and tactics into America and acting as if there 
were no other parties, as if all reactionary leaders were 
discredited, and as if the American Communist Party 
were the undisputed leader of the many million-headed 
American working class. 

The Communist Opposition works to establish united 
fronts and demands the return of the party to the 
united front tactics. The party can make no real prog- 
ress till it again becomes the genuine champion of 
working class unity thru united fronts of struggle for 
elementary working class needs. 



30 



CHAPTER VII. 

On Discipline 

The conditions of the class struggle change from 
day to day, and even a correct line becomes wrong un- 
less it is subject to frequent examination and criticism. 
If members are afraid to voice objection and criti- 
cism, if analysis, whether correct or incorrect, is met 
not with argument and clarification, but with abuse 
and expulsion, then the party stagnates and grows 
corrupt, burocracy flourishes as a rank growth that 
chokes the party's life, and a system of Jesuitic hier- 
archy and rigidity takes the place of the democratic 
centralism of Communist party structure. 

"Democratic centralism" is a term with two poles. 
Party democracy implies full and free discussion by 
every party member. It implies a free play of view- 
points on all questions of tactics and strategy and gen- 
eral line, so lonfv as there is no departure on funda- 
mentals, no abandonment of the basic principles of 
Communism. Party democracy implies selection of all 
officials by the membership (in an illegal party this 
is not always possible) and complete accountability of 
these officials to the membership which remains the 
supreme power in the party. 

On the other hand, the Communist Party, as a party 
of action and not a perpetual debating society, must 
set terms to party discussions, limits at which a dis- 
cussion should stop and decisions be made by the mem- 
bership. Thereafter, there must be a subordination of 
the minority to the majority on the point in question, 
until the question is again subject to examination, as, 
for instance, during a convention discussion period. 

Such in brief is the mechanics of democratic cen- 
tralism. Yet there is not a point in the above outline 
that is not systematically violated in the present life 
of the party. The line of the party is not subject 
to examination. Critics and questioners do not have 
their views examined, accepted or patiently refuted, 
but are met with a flood of abuse, threats and expul- 

31 



sion. Comrades are expelled not for differences on 
fundamentals (proletarian dictatorship and Soviet 
power) but for questioning the correctness of tactical 
measures or the limitless wisdom of party officials. 
The membership, after a thoro discussion, voted by 
90% for a given line and leadership at the Sixth Na- 
tional Convention of our party but the leadership was 
removed, the decisions of the membership reversed and 
over a third of the Central Committee expelled by ca- 
ble decree "from above." 

Expulsion and slander were substituted for discus- 
:sion and conviction, and raised to the dignity of a sys- 
tem. To doubt the wisdom of abandoning the trade 
unions or the united front, was to earn the epithets 
"renegade," "counter-revolutionist," "agent of Hoov- 
er," "social-fascist", "enemy of the Soviet Union." 
The "Daily Worker" and the "Freiheit" even publish- 
ed weird stories of alleged burglary of the national of- 
ofice, stealing of funds, stool-pigeons, consorting with 
gangsters, and what-not lurid slanders in the best 
■style of the "Jewish Daily Forward" or the tabloid 
press. 

Lenin once characterized such methods in this wise: 

"There is one meihod of a corrupt press that has 
everywhere and alwiys proved itself useful and 'in- 
fallible' above all others; lies, shouts, slanders, repe- 
titions of lies . . . , 'something will stick!' .... The 
heroes who use such methods are already thru." 

But the party burocrats have gone farther — even to 
the point of breaking up, or trying to break up discus- 
sion meetings by force, as if cracking heads were a 
convincing way of reaching the brains of comrades 
who differed with them! 

Why the resort to such methods? The answer is 
very simple: DISCUSSION MUST BE AVOIDED AT 
ALL COSTS. THE PRESENT LINE OF THE PAR- 
TY WILL NOT BEAR EXAMINATION! 

THE QUESTION OF DISCIPLINE 

Inner party democracy is a key to the growth of a 
mass party. An unhealthy inner line makes impossible 
the winning and assimilation of new members. No 

S2 



one is born fully Communist and new members natur- 
ally come in with doubts and questions and sugges- 
tions. If they are met with patient explanation and 
comradely discussion, they can be made into fully 
developed Communists. If not, they are alienated and 
repulsed. During the past three years, it is not true 
that the party has been unable to attract new mem- 
bers. But it has been unable to HOLD them! By its 
own records over 45,000 workers have joined the par- 
ty since 1929 and over 50,000 have left it! The result 
is a net loss — a loss that is directly attributable to 
the errors of the party and the unhealthy condition 
of its inner life. 

The enemies of Communism have al~yays tried to at- 
tack Communist discipline and to pretend that it is a 
mere matter of orders from above and obedience from 
below. In the measure that the party leaders have re- 
duced discipline to such a caricature, they have given 
ammunition to our enemies and checked the stream of 
movement toward our party. 



LENIN ON DISCIPLINE 

The discipline of Communism is not discipline based 
upon threat, but upon conviction. We are a voluntary 
association for a common cause, a cause which enlists 
our enthusiasm and devotion. Therefore, the primary 
consideration, the foundation of all discipline, is a 
correctness of line and the convincing of all members 
of its correctness. Without these, discipline is a gro- 
tesque caricature. 

Here is how Lenin put the question of discipline: 

"Upon what does the discipline of the revolutionary 
party of the proletariat rest? How is it tested, con- 
trolled, reinforced, strengthened? 

First: by the clarity of aim of the proletarian van- 
guard and by its devotion to the revolution, by its 
steadiness, spirit of self-sacrifice and heroism. 

Second: by its ability to lead the toiling masses, 
to form contact with them and to a certain extent 
to fuse itself with the proletarian masses primarily 
but also with the non-proletarian toilers. 

Thirdly: the correctness of the political leadership 



carried out and by the correctness of its political strat- 
egy and tactics, based on the idea that the workers 
convince THEMSELVES of the soundness of this 
political leadership, strategy and tactics thru their own 
experience. Without all these conditions, discipline 
in a revolutionary party of the advanced class luhose 
object is to overthrow the bourgeoisie and revolution- 
ize all of society, is impossible of realization. With- 
out these conditions, all attempts to create discipline 
result in empty phrases, in tomfoolery, in cloianish- 
ness." 

Thus Lenin makes the correctness of the line of 
the party THE VERY BASIS OP DISCIPLINE and 
not discipline a substitute for a correct line. To Gorki 
he also wrote: 

"You must and certainly will understand that once 
a member of a party is convinced of the absolute in- 
correctness and harm of a certain doctrine, he is duty 
bound to take a stand against it . . . AT ALL COSTS." 



84 



CHAPTER VIII. 

What's To Be Done? 

The object of a Communist is not merely to "belong," 
not merely to have a party card in his pocket, but to 
build the party. The party is not a church calling for 
blind faith, nor a Society of Jesuits calling for unthink- 
ing obedience to superiors; it is a revolutionary party 
to be built, to be strengthened, to be made into a mass 
party, to be linked up indissolubly with the masses, to 
give correct leadership, to guide on the path that leads 
to working class victory. 

The Communist sympathizer may well say: "My 
party right or wrong," for the Communist Party is the 
only hope of the working class. But there is a far 
higher, far more Communist loyalty, which says: "I'll 
keep my party right at all costs," for it is the hope 
of the working class only if it leads aright, if it pur- 
sues the policies that make it grow and will give it vic- 
tory. It is a poor Communist, indeed, that does not 
know how, or that does not dare, to transform the 
slogan: "My party right or wrong," into the genuine 
Communist stand: "My party must be right! I'll fight 
like hell to keep it right — and, when it goes wrong. 
I'll fight harder still to set it right again." 

That is the meaning of the Communist Opposition. 
We did not choose expulsion! Too many of the best 
years of our lives went into the building of the Com- 
munist Party; it means too much to us for us to accept 
expulsion lightly. Yet we would have been cowards 
and traitors to Communism, if we had seen our party 
set on the wrong track, isolated from the masses, fol- 
lowing paths that lead away from growth and ulti- 
mate victory, and remained quiet just so that we might 
hold on to party cards or party posts. For a while we 
wavered between loyalty to the party's true interests 
and the keeping of our party cards at the expense of 
treason to the interests of the party. We offered to 
obey mechanical discipline, to carry out the line we 
found so harmful, until a new discussion should open. 

35 



But the party burocrats helped us to decide. The new 
puppet leadership did not dare face a discussion. The 
new line could not bear examination. So they split 
the party, and forced us to carry on our fight for a 
healthier party outside of the regular party channels. 
We have never recognized our expulsion. An exami- 
nation of our organ, "Workers Age", will show how 
loyally we have carried on our fight for a better party 
in the face of shameless provocation and abuse. The 
burocratic action of the party officials combined with 
the needs of the party to make us understand the dif- 
ficult decision of Lenin as written to Gorki. "You must 
and certainly will understand that once a member of 
the party is convinced of the absolute incorrectness 
and hann of a certain doctrine, he is duty bound to 
take a stand against it ... at all costs." 



A WORD TO HESITATORS 

The party officials did not limit themselves to the 
expulsion of conscious elements fighting to correct the 
line of the party. They expelled hundreds for mere- 
ly questioning or doubting. They repulsed thousands 
by their stupid tactics. They demoralized countless 
loyal, old members who grew disgusted and dropped 
out. These forces stand now on the side-lines watching 
our struggles and the party's blunders, demoralized, 
without hope. They wish for correction of the party 
line as for a miracle but they do nothing about it. 
To them I say, quoting an old proverb: "Expect poi- 
son from standing water." 

Look out lest you wait so long away from the stream 
of struggle that you indeed become a stagnant pool. 
"He who desires, but acts not, breeds pestilence." 
The true Communist is one whose desire is harnessed 
to his will and directed by his understanding. The 
sooner you join us and the harder you work with us, 
the sooner will our fight be crowned with victory and 
the painful period of party blunder and isolation be 
over, the sooner will party unity be restored and the 
party begin to go forward. 



36 



ON COMMUNIST UNITY 

The Communist Opposition stands unswervingly for 
the reuniting of the Communist movement. There are 
two possible roads to unity. One is the road offered 
by the official leadership of the party and the Inter- 
national. First, we are asked to denounce ourselves as 
"renegades" and "counter-revolutionists" and thereby 
proclaim our "fitness" for membership and end our use- 
fulness to the working class forever. Second, we are 
asked to drop our struggle for the correction of the 
line of the party and thereby connive at the injury 
that the present leadership is doing to the party and 
the cause of Communism. 

The other road to unity, our road, is the road of 
restoration of party democracy, a full and free dis- 
cussion of differences in the party and the Interna- 
tional. We do not insist that the party accept our line 
as a condition for unity. We abide confidently by the 
results of any untrammeled discussion of the issuesv 



HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE? 

Many party members and sympathizers have come 
to us expressing agreement with our views, demand- 
ing "guarantees" that if they joined us, it would be a 
short fight. "How long?" was the constant burden of 
their inquiries. 

We can not honestly give any promises as to the 
length of the fight. We can only point out that the 
fight is necess'ary, that the party cannot grow nor give 
real leadership to the American working class, till it 
shakes off the curse of its wrong sectarian, union- 
wrecking, isolating line. Long or short, the fight must 
be made, must be fought to a finish. 

All we can answer to such queries is: Come in and 
help us and the fight will be shorter. The more there 
are of us, inside the party and out, the quicker we will 
win, the sooner this painful period of reorientation 
and reconstruction will be over. Therefore, if you 
are truly a Communist, if you are more than a "church 
member", if you are not content to ignore and condone 

m 



the errors of our party just for the sake of being a 
"card holder", at any price, even at the price of in- 
jury to the party, then you will raise a struggle in- 
side the ranks of the party to set it straight, and, in- 
side or out, you will join with us in the struggle for 
the reunification of the party and the Communist In- 
ternational, for the future of the party and the Com- 
intern, for the building of a powerful section of the 
Communist International in the United States, a Com- 
munist party'truly equal to its tasks, the defeat of the 
most powerful ruling class on the face of the earth. 



38 



Appendix I 

TROTSKY AND TROTSKYISM 

In addition to the "official" Communist tendency and 
that of the International Communist Opposition, there 
has traditionally been a third current in the Commu- 
nist movement, associated with the name of Leon Trot- 
sky and known as the "International Left Opposition 
(Bolshevik Leninists)" or simply after a name, derived 
from its central personality, "Trotskyism." 

Recently, as we shall see below, this tendency has 
taken steps which separate it from. Communism funda- 
mentally. 

TROTSKYISM A SECTARIAN TENDENCY 

The Trotsky tendency has no consistent tactical line. 
It criticizes the official party tactics sometimes as 
"opportunist," sometimes as "leftist" and sometimes as 
"centrist." But in the main Trotsky has criticized 
the official line not as ultra-leftist and sectarian, but 
as not "left" enough! In point of fact, the Trotsky 
group has been even more sectarian than the official 
party. 

The very method of formation of the Trotskyist 
faction reveals its incurable sectarianism. Its groups 
in the various countries have nothing to say on the 
problems of the masses in the country in question. 
They have a fixed credo, a memorized and invariable 
litany which they recite on all occasions, to all ques- 
tioners, as the solution of all problems. And the magic 
words of their ritual are: 

"condemnation of the Kuo Min Tang policy of 1924- 
1928; condemnation of the policy of the Anglo-Rus- 
sian Committee ; condemnation of Stalin's theory of 
two-class (worker and peasant) parties . . . permanent 
revolution . . . rejection of the theory of socialism in 
one country ..." (quoted from "The Eleven Points — 
The Fundamental Principles of the International Left 
Opposition". — but it might have been quoted from 
any one of a hundred other documents in which the 

m 



Trotsky sacred litany has been offered as the patent 
medicine cure-all). 

In other words, the formation of the Trotskyist 
groups in each country and on a world scale takes 
place not on the burning questions on which the move- 
ment should be built and to which answers must be 
found, but on the basis of the points of difference 
(mostly outlived) on which Trotsky diifered from the 
Central Committee of the Communist Party of the 
Soviet Union. These questions form a closed system 
of ritualistic dogmas without any regard to their 
actuality or to their present direct relation to the vital 
questions of the revolutionary movement. This doc- 
trinal sectarianism could not produce anything but a 
doctrinaire sect. 

TROTSKYISM AS INVERTED STALINISM 

Trotskyism in international outlook and method 
shares all the defects of the Stalinist system. Like 
Stalin, Trotsky measures, all groups and tendencies in 
other countries exclusively on the basis of their stand 
on the factional issues in tha Russian Party. As 
Stalin has distorted internationalism in his factional 
interests, so Trotsky in his. Neither encourages a 
system of collective international leadership for the 
Communist International. Both seek to convert the 
International into a tail to a Russian faction. 

The official apparatus in each country is judged not 
by its ability to develop and lead the class struggle in 
its sector of the world, but by its loyalty to Stalin; 
the Trotskyist opposition in each country gathered and 
judged in identical fashion, on the basis of loyalty to 
Trotsky. 

Both Trotsky and Stalin are "the best disciples of 
Lenin." The organs of both tendencies are filled with 
personal glorification of their respective leaders, in a 
fashion which Lenin never permitted to prevail to- 
wards him during his lifetime, a fashion alien to the 
spirit of Communist leadership. And each side hurls 
incredible factional abuse at the othe:^- Trotsky, in 
the Stalinist papers, is a conscious counter-revolution- 
ary, a White Guardist. Stalin, in the Trotskyist pa- 
pers, is an agent of the Kulak and the Nepman, a 

40 



strangler of the Russian Revolution, an agent of the 
"masked counter-revolution which still contains the 
outward forms and ritual of the revolution." 
(Thermidor). 

Mechanical methods of leadership and control are 
identical in the two camps. The system of "new turns" 
without explanations and without recognition of error,, 
the system of expulsions for the least disagreement,, 
the system of Open Letters as the line of demarcation 
between "loyalites" and "renegades," the system of 
plenipotentiary and personal representatives, and de- 
cisions arrived at, not on the basis of discussion by 
the membership, but on the basis of decision by letter 
or cable from Moscow or Prinkipo — are all common to 
Trotskyism and Stalinism. 

Trotskyism attempts to preserve the appearance of 
internationalism by an attack on the so-called doctrine^ 
of "national socialism." Trotsky pretends that Stalin 
is in favor of "Socialism in one country" while he, 
Trctsky, is in favor of "Socialism in all countries." 

Thus Trotskyism tries to preserve the appearance of 
genuine internationalism for his international appa- 
ratus developed on the basis of and for the sake of 
factional struggle in the Russian party. Neither fac- 
tion has any use for the principle of adaptation and 
modification of the general line to the specific and con- 
crete conditions of the various countries. This view is. 
branded as "exceptionalism" by Stalin, as "national so- 
cialism" by Trotsky. The joint rejection of the theory 
of "exceptionalism" (see Chapter III) constitutes the 
common point of departure for the false line and 
methods of both the Trotskyites and the present ofiicial 

leadership of the International. 
* * * 

QUESTION OF SOCIALISM IN ONE COUNTRY 

The dogmatic rejection of the possibility of "build- 
ing up Socialism in one country" is an old Trotskyist 
error. Prior to the November revolution it took the 
form of a disbelief in the possibility that "a revolu- 
tionary Russia would be able to hold out in face of 
conservative Europe, or that Socialist Germany would 
be able to remain isolated in a capitalist world." 
Against this Lenin polemized most sharply. In its 
latest form it represents a profound disbelief in the 

41 



possibility of the Soviet Union's building up Socialism 
on the basis of its own economic resources and class 
forces. 

In the first years of the Russian Revolution, the 
situation was so desperate in Russia (breakdown as the 
result of war, famine, revolution and counter-revolu- 
tion and foreign invasion) and the revolution seemed 
so imminent in Germany and other Western lands, 
that there was and could be no thought of building 
socialism in a temporarily isolated Russia. The only 
thought was to hold on a little longer until the revolu- 
tion should break out in the west. But in the early 
20's, when it became apparent that capitalism was 
being stabilized and that there would be a shorter or 
longer period when the two systems would exist side 
by side without either for the moment being able to 
overthrow the other, then it became necessary to can- 
vass the possibility of doing something else beside just 
holding out— namely using the vast and varied re- 
sources and revolutionary ijiitiative of the Russian 
masses and Russian land for the building of social- 
ism as long as peace should last. In this respect the 
Central Committee, and after its disruntic Stalin 
and his group, in spite of various crudities of formu- 
lation and blunders in detail, have been correct, and 
Trotsky's fiercely eloquent but empty phrases about 
not "socialism in one country" but "world revolution", 
served only to cloak a purely negative and defeatist 
pessimism ^s to the possibility of building socialism. 

So convinced is Trotsky that no one could think 
otherwise (except of course, Stalin), that when Lenin 
wrote and began to direct attention toward this prob- 
lem and wrote in his last article before his death that 
the Soviet Union "possesses all that is necessary and 
sufficient for the complete construction of Socialism" 
Trotsky explains that if Lenin meant "all the neces- 
sary and sufficient material prerequisites" then "we 
would have to surmise that either Lenin slipped in his 
dictation or the stenographer made a mistake in de- 
ciphering her notes."(!!!) 

* * * 

THE PERMANENT REVOLUTION 

The Trotskyist conceptions as to the course and 
consequent strategy of the revolution are given in his 

42 



doctrine of "permanent revolution." This theory gives 
the real key to his disbelief in the possibility of building 
socialism in the Soviet Union, for it reveals a profound 
disbelief in the revolutionary role of the peasantry in 
alliance with the proletariat. 

"But after it has seized power", he writes, "the pro- 
letariat cannot confine itself to the bourgeois frame- 
work of the revolution. . . . This means for the pro- 
letariat hostile encounters with every group of the 
bourgeoisie which has supported the proletariat at the 
beginning of the revolutionary struggle, not only with 
these but eiii/A the broad masses of the peasantry as 
well. . . " (emphasis ours — B. 1). W.) 

Here, as elsewhere. Trotskyism camouflages its pes- 
simism as to the forces of the revolution under a left- 
sounding cloak — in this case employing the famous 
Marxian term of "the revolution in permanence" to 
cover a thoroughly un-Marxian picture of the course 
of the revolution. 

* * * 

THE QUESTION OF "THERMIDOR" 

The central point of the entire political system of 
Trotskyism is its estimation of the class character of 
the Soviet power. Trotsky has the habit of substituting 
analogy for analysis. His Thermidor analogy is not 
only false but dangerous. Thermidor was the month 
in the French revolutionary calendar when Robespierre 
was beheaded, the speculator-reactionary government 
came into power, and the French counter-revolution 
began. According to Trotsky the Russian revolution 
is now going through its Thermidor. He put it as 
follows : 

"Right now, under the centrist regime, (his name 
for Stalinism — B.D.W.) the co\u)try is compelled to 
pass through a 'Kerensky period upside-down'. The 
function of the historical Kerensky period consisted 
in this: that on its back the power of the bourgeoisie 
passed over to the proletariat. The historic role of 
the Stalin period consists in this: that upon its back 
the power is gliding over from the proletariat to the 
bourgeoisie. In general the post-Lenin leadership is 
unwinding the October film in a reverse direction". 
(Written in Oct. 1928). 

43 



In the same article Trotsky declares that the leaders 
of the Soviet power are bearers of the influence of the 
class enemy who are striving to overthrow the prole- 
tarian dictatorship. He proposes the reintroduction of 
the secret ballot because of the fear on the part of 
the workers "of the pressure of the bourgeoisie re- 
flected through the apparatus." 

From struggle by secret ballot against "the pressure 
of the bourgeoisie" Trotskj^ism developed into the con- 
duct of strikes. Thus the Militant for August 15, 1930 
in its article from Russia boasts that: 

"During this period the Moscow comrades . . . have 
assumed charge of a whole series of strikes which 
were provoked by the policy of the bureaucfacy. . . 
This has further irritated the bureaucracy". 

In subsequent writings Trotsky comes to the conclu- 
sion that "the Bolshevik party no longer exists," that 
"Soviets no longer exist," that trade unions do not 
either; that the state is proletarian "only in its proper- 
ty relations" but not in the sense of workers' rule 
through party, unions and Soviets. It is no longer a 
proletarian dictatorship, merely a "bureaucratic dic- 
tatorship," and, at that the dictatorship of a bureau- 
cracy which "in the struggle against the Left Opposi- 
tion . . . was an instrument of the counter-revolu- 
tionary forces." 

Error has its logic as well as truth. One wrong 
step leads to another, so that today the Trotskyites 
are proposing to imperil the unity of the Russian prole- 
tarian rule by trying to form a rival, and of course, 
conspirative, party in the Soviet Union, and a whole 
new international to back up this new phase of the 
Russian factional struggle with international support. 

M: « :jt 

A DEPARTURE ON FUNDAMENTALS 

Such a viewpoint represents a serious departure not 
merely from the strategy and tactics, but from the 
fundamentals of Communism. However shamefully the 
Stalin leadership has misused the apparatus of the 
Soviet State for factional purposes, nevertheless the 
Communist Party of the Soviet Union remains a Com- 
munist Party, the soviet state a proletarian govern- 

44 



ment both in property relations aTid clciss rule, and 
while we are seeking to correct its errors and restore 
inner party democracy, this does not for a moment 
justify a false analysis of the class character of that 
state; nor an attempt to build a rival party in Russia, 
which can only be built in actual struggle and which 
threatens the unity of the proletariat and the existence 
of the dictatorship itself; nor the conduct of strikes 
against the workers' government. 

All other differences between Trotskyism and official 
Communism on tactical questions are entirely permis- 
sible within the limits of the Communist movement, 
and it is the fault of official Communism, not of the 
Trotskyites, that they have to be fought "from outside" 
and not discussed and settled inside the party. But the 
difference on the class character of the Soviet State and 
the attitude towards it is one involving the very fun- 
damentals of communism and consequently membership 
in the Communist International. 
* * * 
FLIRTING WITH CIVIL WAR 

The latest stage in the development of this aspect 
of Trotskyism is the beginning of what we can only 
hope will be a short-lived literary flirtation with the 
idea of a new civil war in the Soviet Union. In the 
Militant of October 21, 1933, Trotsky writes under 
his pen name of "G.G." an imaginary dialogue between 
"A" and "B". The answers of A are the views of 
Trotsky. Here is a selection: 

"A . . . To speak now of the reform of the C.P.S.U. 
would mean to look backward and not forward. . . . 
In the U.S.S.R. it is necessary to build a Bolshevik 
party again." 

"B — But isn't that the road of civil war?" 
"A. answers that the civil war has already in essence 
begun, that the counter-revolutionary forces used the 
Stalinist bureaucracy as an instrument to crush the 
only truly revolutionary force, the left opposition, and 
now the counter-revolution will split the Stalinist bu- 
reaucracy and proceed to the next stage of the civil 
war." 

"B — So the civil ivar is inevitable. 

"A. Right at the present moment it is taking 
place. . . ." 

45 



We should not exaggerate the significance of this 
literary flirtation with the idea of civil war. Ob- 
viously, however, the Trotskyites consider the party 
dead, and part at least of its apparatus an instrument 
of enemy classes. It cannot be reformed. A new party 
must be built to split and replace the old, and if this 
involves civil war as it does, why it is not the fault of 
the Trotskyites, and besides it is already on! Verily, 

error has its logic as well as truth! 

* * * 

THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL 

As usual, Trotsky has generalized on an interna- 
tional scale his tactics in the Russian struggle. Having 
decided to build a "new," i.e. rival, party in the Soviet 
Union, he couples it with the building of "new" parties 
in all countries and a "new" or Fourth International. 

"The Bolshevik-Leninists", writes Trotsky, "cannot 
by their own forces regenerate the Bolshevik party and 
save the dictatorship of the proletariat." 

As a groundwork for this complete break with the 
Communist International, Trotsky advances the theory 
that instead of being criminally stupid and wrong in 
their tactics in Germany, the German Communist Party 
and the C.P.S.U. have both "betrayed the revolution." 

"Wels on the one hand, Stalin on the other have 
placed Hitler in the saddle . . . the Comintern in agony 
can give nothing to the world proletariat, absolutely 
nothing, save evil." Hence to the Second and Third 
Internationals Trotsky proposes to add another which 
numerically will be named the Fourth, but politically 
will stand between the Second and the Third as a 
Centrist International. 

* * * 

DANGER OF A CENTRIST INTERNATIONAL 

There is a new development of centrism manifest in 
the international labor movement today. In the So- 
cialist International, a drift to the left, in the Com- 
munist movement a drift to the right of certain sections 
(leadership of the Swedish section of the I.C.O., the 
Walcher-Froehlich elements formerly in the German 
Communist Opposition and the Trotskyites on a world 
scale). The leftward movement from the Second In- 
ternational is in danger of being stopped halfway and 

46 



prevented from arriving at a full Communist position 
as a result of three factors: 

1. The impotence and stupidities of official comu- 
nism which repulses them. 

2. Old Centrist leaders who may again as they have 
done before, head a secession from the Second 
International in order to behead it and lead it 
back when it has spent its force. 

3. The rightward drift in the Communist forces 
which is trying to crystallize the in-between ele- 
ments and freeze them in an "in-between" posi- 
tion, an "in-between" international. 

* * * 

TROTSKYISM AND CENTRISM 

Of course Trotsky is vociferous against "Centrism." 
But an examination reveals that what he means by 
"a struggle against Centrism" is a struggle against 
Stalin, the official parties and the Comintern! This 
official or Stalinist current he calls "bureaucratic cen- 
trism" ! ! ! Thus, when Trotsky attacks "centrism" it 
is his politically false name for v/hat should be at- 
tacked as bureaucracy and sectarianism. And against 
real centrism he has nothing to say. His guns are 
trained in the other direction! 

The older Centrism used to be characterized by two 
political features: 

1. Platonic friendship for the Soviet Union, and 

2. Rejection of Communism for the Western lands 
in favor of "democracy" and parliamentarism. 

But with the discrediting and decay of bourgeois 
democracy in the face of fascism, the old Centrism 
is played out. Trotskyism furnishes a basis for a new 
variety, which is forced to reject democracy in the West 
but can borrow from Trotsky a whole ideological arse- 
nal against the Soviet government in Russia. What 
kind of an international will it be that is to be built 
out of Centrist elements upon the basis of an extreme 
anti-soviet and anti-comintern orientation as embodied 
in such declaration as this: 

"The Stalinist bureaucracy has liquidated the party, 
Soviet, and trade union democracy not only in essence 
but also in form" ! 

"The acts and declarations of Soviet diplomacy have 

47 



provoked the burning and entirely righteous indigna- 
tion of the advanced workers. The apparatus of the 
Comintern has completely gone over from Marxism to 
Centrism (Trotsky's name for ultra-leftist!), from in- 
ternationalism to national limitedness." (From the 
joint Declaration of the International Left Opposition — • 
Trotskyites — for the formation of a New Interna- 
tional.) 
To cap the climax, at a time when bourgeois democ- 
racy is discredited even in the Socialist camp in Ger- 
many, Trotsky comes out for the restoration of bour- 
geois democracy as a system, the restoration of the 
Weimar constitution which paved the way for fascism, 
and the reconvening of the old Reichstag, as transitional 
demands in Germany! (See "Militant" August 26, 
1933). Thus Trotsky becomes the main rallying point 
for the new centrism and his views and efforts to or- 
ganize a new international become a serious obstacle 
in the way of the rehabilitation of the world Commu- 
nist movement and in the way of emergence of a gen- 
uine left movement from the Second International to 
Communism. 

AN OLD ROLE 

This is nothing new for Trotsky. Twice before, once 
prior to 1905, and again in the period between 1907 and 
1914, Trotsky stood between the Bolshevik or revolu- 
tionary current and the Menshevik current and tried to 
serve as a rallying center which objectively was direct- 
ed against Bolshevism. This long fight culminated 
in the August Block in 1912. If the Russian proletar- 
iat had followed Trotsky instead of Lenin in that 
period, there would have been no crystallized Bolshevik 
Party at the outbreak of the World War to lead the 
struggle against war and for revolution. In general, 
Leon Trotsky, who has shown undoubted heroism and 
ability to "land right side up" both in 1905 and 1917 
when the wave of revolution is high and the move- 
ment advancing, has been consistently and dangerous- 
ly wrong when the tide of revolution is low or in ebb. 
In 1903 he was with Martov and against Lenin on the 
main question that then separated Menshevism and 
Bolshevism, the organization question. 

When the revolutionary wave receded after 1907, he 
was wrong again on the main question separating 

48 



right and left and opposed the formation of the Bol- 
shevik Party and the separation between Mensheviks 
and Bolsheviks. In the early war period he again fought 
the main revolutionary slogan, "Defeat your own 
Bourgeoisie" (although not on a pro-war basis). But 
as the tide of struggle against war rose higher, he 
gravitated toward Lenin and in 1917 to 1920 he wrote 
an imperishable page in the history of the Russian 
revolution, the organization of the Red Army and the 
Civil War. But when the world revolution did not 
spread and capitalism succeeded in effecting temporary 
stabilization, he again went off the track (ultra-left- 
ist sectarianism in the Comintern and struggle on prin- 
ciple against the building of socialism in the Soviet 
Union) and has now drifted far from a Communist po- 
sition with his "Thermidor", his struggle for a new 
party in Russia, which if persisted in and successfully 
pushed must lead to civil war, and his drive for a new 

centrist international. 

* * * 

TROTSKYISM AND THE COMMUNIST 
OPPOSITION 

Between the Communist Opposition and Trotskyism 
there are thus two kinds of differences. On the one 
hand, our struggle against Stalin's bureaucratic or- 
ganizational methods and against the sectarian tactical 
line of the Comintern necessarily involves a simul- 
taneous struggle against the similar conceptions of 
Trotskyism. On the other, there are certain views 
of Trotskyism (Thermidor, estimation of and attitude 
towards the Soviet government, new party in the 
Soviet Union and rival centrist international) which 
separate them in our judgment from Communism not 
on tactical questions but on fundamentals. One thing is 
certain, that the international Trotskyist faction, even 
if it abandons the views that separate it from Com- 
munism on fundamentals, can never become a rallying 
center for reuniting the Comintern, not only because 
of its own methods and inner regime, but above all 
because, as the most stubborn expression of sectarian- 
ism, it is suffering in an even more acute form from 
precisely those fundamental defects in the system of 
leadership and strategy which have thrown the whole 
Comintern into crisis! 

49 



Appendix 11 

Introduction to First Edition 

The Communist Party of the United States (Opposi- 
tion) is a part of the Communist movement of the 
United States and of the international Communist 
movement. It stands for the reunification of the Com- 
munist Party of the United States, which has been split 
into three currents or tendencies, and for the reunifi- 
cation of the Communist International, which has been 
similarly divided. Its differences with the official lead- 
ership of the Communist Party and the official leader- 
ship of the Communist International, are not differ- 
ences of basic principles nor fundamental aims. Our 
differences -with the official leadership are on the ques- 
tion of tactics, the best methods of reaching our com- 
mon aim and goal. 

The Communist Opposition, like the official party, 
stands on the following platform of basic principles 
and "aims : 

1. We stand for the proletarian dictatorship, the 
rule of the working class. It is the only possible means 
of overthrowing capitalist political rule and economic 
domination. 

2. The general form of the proletarian dictatorship 
is the Workers Councils or Soviets. 

3. Under the rule of the workers, we Communists 
aim to abolish the anarchistic planless capitalist mode 
of production and substitute a planned society, to 
abolish private property in the means of production 
and substitute ownership of the means of production 
by the producers as social property, to develop a so- 
cialist economic order in which there are no classes 
and no exploitation of man by man. Thus abolishing 
the very basis of class rule altogether. 

4. The present government of this country repre- 
sents the rule of the capitalist class. One has to be 
blind, indeed, not to see that the government repre- 
sents a dictatorship of big business, of a little handful 
of magnates and money kings. We Communists hold 
that the governmental form of the dictatorship of 
capital cannot be used as the basis of the dictatorship 
of the proletariat and that the capitalist class will 
never give up its privileges and power without a brutal 

50 



struggle to maintain itself by force against the will 
and interests of the majority, the producing population. 

5. We hold that the Soviet Union is a prole- 
tarian dictatorship, expressing the interests and the 
will of the workers, that it is building a socialist 
society and that its existence and progress in the 
building of socialism are the mainstay and support of 
the workers of all lands in their struggle for power. 
The defense of the Soviet Union against all attack by 
any and all of the capitalist powers is the unconditional 
duty of the working class of all lands. The defense of 
the Soviet Union is an indispensable part of the strug- 
gle of the world working class for power. 

6. In its struggle for power and in the construction 
of socialism after it has gained power, the working 
class needs the leadership of a Communist Party. The 
Communist Party is the most advanced, most conscious 
part of the working class, distinguished by its greater 
devotion to and consciousness of the aims and interests 
of our class and methods of attaining them, and by 
the organization of its own forces and connections with 
the rest of the working class. The action of the party 
is no substitute for the action of the working class. 
It has no interests separate and apart from the inter- 
ests of the workers as a whole. Its aim is to lead the 
working class to victory in the proletarian revolution. 
Its form of organization must be democratic centralism. 

7. The Communist movement of each country is a 
component part of the world Communist movement and 
its struggle is part of the world Communist struggle. 
The leadership of the world struggle is the function 
of the Communist International. Its basis of organ- 
ization must also be that of democratic centralism. 

On the above basic foundations of Communism, all 
three main currents in the Communist movement (the 
oificial Communist Party, the "Trotskyites" and the 
Communist Opposition) agree in principle. However, 
the Trotskyites disagree with our estimate of the class 
character of the state in the Soviet Union (Trotskyite 
theory of "Thermidor") as expressed in Point 5. 

We hold that there is no room for the existence of 
two Communist parties in any country. The Commu- 
nist Party (Opposition) is not a new Communist Party. 
It stands for the unity of all Communist forces into 

51 



a single Communist Party, on the basis of the above 
basic principles, and insists that diiferences on tactics, 
on how to attain our aims, can and should be settled 
by comradely discussion inside the ranks of the party, 
and not by the splitting and division of the Commu- 
nist movement. The Communist Opposition fights for 
its readmission into the official party and for its right 
to advocate its tactical views within the framework 
of democratic centralism. We are also for the readmis- 
sion of the Trotskyite Opposition, provided it will give 
up its "Thermidor" estimate of the nature of the Soviet 
government and C.P.S.U., which separates the Trot- 
skyites from the other Communist tendencies, not on 
tactical questions but on the fundamentals involving 
proletarian dictatorship, Soviet rule and defense of 
the Soviet Union. On other matters, altho we disagree 
with the Trotskyites, we fight for their right to ad- 
vocate their tactical viewpoints within the framework 
of the party. 

We do not insist that the official party adopt our 
tactical views as a condition for unity. We ask merely 
for normal party democracy and the right to advocate 
our views before the party membership. The Commu- 
nist Opposition considers as one of its basic tasks the 
fight for party unity. 

Recognizing that the workers struggle is interna- 
tional, we have joined up with Oppositions in other 
countries that hold the same viewpoint, to form the 
International Communist Opposition, which aims to 
reunify the Communist International and set it once 
more upon the path of Marxist-Leninist tactics, so 
that it may grow and be victorious thruout the world. 

We assume that the reader is interested enough in 
the problems of the working class to give earnest and 
open-minded consideration to the questions raised in 
this pamphlet, and that, if the facts here set forth and 
aims expounded convince him, the working class reader 
will act upon his convictions and join actively and 
wholeheartedly in our struggle for the unity of our 
party, the adoption of a tactical line that will enable 
it to grow, and insure its victory in this country and 
the triumph of the Communist International and the 
cause of Communism in all lands. 

Communist Party of the U. S. A. 
{Opposition) 
52 



The Workers 6£ie 



Published twice a month by the 

Communis^t Party of the U. S. A. 
(Opposition) 

For Communist Unity in the Revolutionary 
Class Struggle 



$1.25 a year — $0.75 six months — 5^ a copy. 

THE WORKERS AGE 

51 West 14 Street 

New York City 



JOIN the 

Communist Party of the U.S.A. 
[Opposition] 

Enlist in the struggle to reunite the Commu- 
nist Party of the U.S.A. and the Communist 
International, to restore the Communist 
movement to the course of Leninist tac- 
tics and to strengthen the influence 
of Conmiunism among the masses 
of the vrorkers. 

Write for information to: 

COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE U. S. A. 

(OPPOSITION) 

51 West 14th Street 

New York City